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May 27, 2007

FROM ANBAR, MICHAEL YON POSTS A MEMORIAL DAY MESSAGE: It's a must-read, but here's an excerpt on the situation in Iraq as he sees it:

I am out here in Anbar Province with Task Force 2-7 Infantry. The area around Hit (pronounced “heat”) is so quiet previous units likely would not recognize the still. There was a small IED incident this morning, and the explosion was a direct hit, but the bomb was so small that mechanics had the vehicle back in shape by late afternoon. Calm truly has fallen on this city.

Dishes are appearing on rooftops and people are communicating more freely. During today’s prayers, one mosque announced that divorce is bad and that parents should take care of their children. One mosque cried about Christians and Jews, while yet another announced that Al-Jazeera is lying and people should not watch it.

Long-time readers know that I deliver bad news with the good. I was first to write that parts of Iraq were in civil war back in February 2005, well over a year before mainstream outlets started reporting the same. I was also the first to report, back in 2005, that Mosul was making a turn for the better. Mainstream outlets hardly picked up on that story, however, although the turn was easy to see for anyone who was there. When I returned from Afghanistan in the spring of 2006, after writing about the growing threat of a resurgent Taliban, bankrolled with profits from the heroin trade, I wrote that parts of our own military were censoring media in Iraq. The recent skirmishing over blogging from Iraq supports that contention. These reminders are for new readers who do not believe that a province that most media outlets had put at the top of the “hopelessly lost” column is actually turning a corner for the better.

Although there is sharp fighting in Diyala Province, and Baghdad remains a battleground, and the enemy is trying to undermine security in areas they’d lost interest in, the fact is that the security plan, or so-called “surge,” is showing clear signs of progress.

Read the whole thing. And remember that he is supported by his readers, so if you like his work, hit the tipjar.

UPDATE: Michael emails this photo, and reports: "I made this photo in a market in Hit, Anbar Province Saturday. LTC Doug Crissman walked through the market with only two soldiers and an unarmed interpreter. We took our time and walked about two miles. The people just wanted to talk, but as late as February this year, Hit was a gun battle. Yet on Saturday, the only battle I saw was that of a very rotund boy trying to slurp down an ice cream before it dripped away in the heat. Just down the road, hundreds of men were lining up to join the police."

yonhitpicsm.jpg

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